Tribute to Deshpande: Indian delegation to arrive in city
By Amar Guriro
KARACHI: An Indian delegation is due to arrive in the city on Thursday evening to attend the discussion forum arranged to pay tribute to the Gandhian icon Nirmala Deshpande.
The delegation would include senior Indian journalist Jatin Desai, renowned Indian social activist and founder of Asha Parivar, Dr Sandeep Pandey, famous human rights activist Kavita Srivastava and others.
The tribute is being held to recognise Deshpande’s inspiring role in the struggle for peace and friendship between Pakistan and India and her deep commitment to the unity, progress and welfare of the people of South Asia. The Pakistan Peace Coalition has organised the forum in coordination with other civil society organisations under the title ‘Promoting Peace in South Asia and Remembering Didi Nirmala Deshpande’ at Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (Auditorium), Aiwan-e-Saddar Road.
Deshpande, a renowned peace activist of South Asia was best known for her efforts to promote the Gandhian ideology to reduce communal violence and encourage peace between India and Pakistan. She passed away on May 1, 2008 in New Delhi. Her friends cremated her and distributed her ashes in different countries of South Asia. Some of her ashes were also brought to Sindh to be immersed into Indus River.
“Deshpande played a great role for the peace and harmony in South Asian countries, especially between the nuclear rivals, Pakistan and India,” said a young researcher of PILER, Zulfiqar Shah. He said that civil society organisations were holding this forum to pay a rich tribute to the great peace activist and to draw guidelines for peace in South Asian countries.
Pandey, one of the members of the delegation, is a renowned social activist and is the founder of ‘Asha Parivar’, which focuses on strengthening democracy at the grassroots. His work at Asha Parivar is focused on ‘Right to Information’ and other forms of citizen participation in removing corruption and improving the efficiency of governance. He also leads the National Alliance of People’s Movements, the largest network of people’s movements in India. He has served as an adviser to the Indian government’s Central Advisory Board for Education. Pandey led an Indo-Pakistan peace march from New Delhi to Multan in 2005.
Another member of the Indian delegation is senior journalist Jatin Desai, who is famous for his writings on issues related to South Asia and Indo-Pak relations. He also regularly analyses current social-political scenarios and Indo-Pak relations on various television channels. Desai has organised and addressed many seminars on Indo-Pak relations and dangers of nuclear weapons. He is part of the Journalist Trade Union Movement and of People’s Media Initiative. He was the chairperson of Bombay Union of Journalists for four years and during that time fought many battles for freedom of expression and speech.
Desai is also a member of the national committee of Pakistan India PeopleÂ’s Forum for Peace and Democracy and he has visited Pakistan a number of times to promote friendship and cooperation between the two countries. He has been playing an important role in promoting people-to-people contact, communal harmony and peace and conflict resolution. He is currently working on the issues of fishermen and peasants in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Kavita Srivastava, a full-time human rights activist, who is working collectively to protect people’s democratic and constitutional rights, is also a member of the delegation and her work towards justice in instances of violations of people’s rights can be counted as great achievements.
For two decades now, Srivastava has been promoting non-violent ways of ensuring justice to survivors of atrocities due to their gender, class, caste, religious group or nationality. She has also brought to the forefront issues of violation through ‘State of the Rights of Human Rights Defenders’. She has also been working for nuclear disarmament and peace.
She is the national secretary for People’s Union for Civil Liberties, one of the foremost human rights organisation of the country. She was one of the people that launched a campaign for the release of PUCL National Vice President Binayak Sen, who was illegally detained by the Chhattisgarh State Police for two years for opposing the legislation of draconian laws and opposing the state policy of setting up vigilante groups in the name of combating Maoism.
Besides the Indian delegation, speakers from Pakistan including former federal minister Sherry Rehman, Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Manzoor Ahmed, Nasreen Jalil, Syed Iqbal Haider, Syed Khadim Ali Shah, M B Naqvi, Anis Haroon, Dr Jaffar Ahmed, Dr Tanveer Gondal, Saeeda Diep, Dr Tipu Sultan, Zaheda Hina, Rahat Malik and others would also speak at the forum.
Source: Daily Times